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August 2008 archive

DIY my Butt – Homemade CDs Suck and here’s why…

The following is the story of one idiot (me) trying to take the cheapskate option and hand-make five CDs to send to CDBaby to sell. And of how it nearly drove me to cause some kind of act of mass destruction that, had it actually happened, would more than likely have involved a printer, an Officeworks outlet, the five CDs in question, a life-size reconstruction of that zeppelin that blew up and one of those really long BBQ matches.

Let me explain…

A few weeks ago in an inspired (but stupid) moment I decided to hand-make the first five copies of my forthcoming “Dogs May Bark” CD. My rationale, if you can call it that, was to make them cheaply as a kind of mini-investment, sell them, re-invest the profits, make a few more and so on so that as I made more discs each time each batch pays for themselves and contributes to the next batch, or something like that.

I mean, I didn’t actually do a budget, I just figured it’d work out …

What’s more I gave myself 7 days to do it.

Yeah right.

I would like to say now, to the very few that will read this, that I will categorically never ever do that again even if some axe-wielding-maniac threatens to castrate me unless I do. I mean that. I will place my precious boys out on the block without resistance and contort myself in such a way as to give the man a clear shot and no chance of missing.

You see it should have been easy to make 5 CDs – but nay, it was in fact a complete pain the arse.

It started with the design. I asked my wife-except-for-the-marriage-bit to design the cover for me. That turned out ace but me nagging her to get it done within the 7 days didn’t do our relationship any good, especially seeing as our little darling 9 month old was keeping us up all night for no damn good reason (that we could ascertain anyway – you think WHAAAA! makes no sense during the day, try figuring out that shit at 4am).

seamusanthony_front_cover.jpg

Then I had to buy the discs. I went to Officeworks and bought those discs with the white printable tops – but they only seem to come in those thin covers with no back insert facility. This would have been ok if I hadn’t just spent five days stressing my girl out to get a back insert made. So I had to buy another bunch of non-printable discs so I could use their full size cases.

Of course I didn’t notice this in the shop, my girlfriend noticed it back home. So I had to go back to Officeworks to get those bigger jewel cases. That took me about a week to get around to. (It’s cold out there in Melbourne right now, and we live in the hills too. So you can see why I am so ambivalent about losing my nads – I can’t feel them anyway.)

Oh and on another tangent: Why are they called jewel cases? Is it because if you didn’t extract the oil to make the plastic covers that oil might turn into a diamond one day?

Anyway so then I needed five covers and we had run out of paper to print them and besides normal office paper wasn’t going to cut it so I bought some nice card but they only had 80% recycled. Hey, we all make compromises sometimes.

Yeah so look I went home and the printer was in its box because we moved house two years ago and we never seem to use it. Meanwhile we have changed computers to a nice new Mac (from a shitty old PC). Of course the printer wouldn’t work would it. And no idea where the driver disc is and it probably was just for PC anyway so spent an entire Sunday finding a driver to get it working. You know, searching through lame suggestions in forums until you finally find the answer yourself in some kind of zen-koan satori breakthrough. (I know what I mean, that’s all that matters.)

But, says the little pop-up, there are three empty printer cartridges….

One million dollars and another trip to Officeworks later…

Printed the covers. Ok. Look good.

Somehow it takes me until the next Sunday to get around to figuring out how to print the discs. By the very end of that nice sunny-outside Sunday I discover that although the driver I downloaded works for paper, it won’t work with the CD-Label print software that I spent the first half of the day discovering I needed. I think it was Tuesday before I printed the CDs.

And of course the whole 7 day thing is a dead duck by now obviously.

So now I have paper covers and sweet looking discs but I need to cut them out. I cut out one with some crap old scissors we have but it looks all wobbly and it took far too long. And then they don’t fit anyway. The cd artwork template we downloaded from the internet (we googled “CD artwork template”) wasn’t the right size! They were about a centimetre out!

Damn it! I DEMAND my free useful shit from the internet to be accurate ok?! Jeez!

So then (about a week later) I have to go to Officeworks AGAIN to get them to guillotine the covers. Which they slug me five bucks for. And while I was waiting for the McGenius who served me to find the time to slice my paper, I impulsively bought some cool computer speakers that I couldn’t believe were only $120.

Suffice to say, my little budget has gone right out the window by now and there is no way in hell I am making anything less than a $500 loss on these first 5 Cds – especially because in my infinite financial planning wisdom I totally forgot to factor in that I paid to get the recording done in a studio (well, the basic tracks, I did the cool computer sounds on my iMac). So what the hell kind of bizzaro-budgeting planet I was on in the first place I do not know.

And then I go to post them. I never post shit so I thought you know, maybe it’s be five bucks to send them to the USA from Australia. U-Uh. over $20 bucks. So I’m like “Oh so they get there pretty quick though huh?”

The post office lady just grunts. I had to strain to hear her sweet dulcet tones properly but I am pretty sure she said “A week”.

What are they sending them by? Canoe?

So suffice to say I was more than glad to wave those five little fuckers off and I hope the CDBaby people enjoy them and I went straight home and got three quotes for 100 cds done professionally and was perfectly happy to place a $500 order and I will never, ever go near the idea of home-making my CDs ever again. Good luck to you should you try.

And my back hurt typing this drivel so go to my myspace page shop and listen to my music already and then email cdbaby at cdbaby dot com and tell them you want one of the only five hand made CD copies of “Dogs May Bark” by Seamus Anthony, which are currently being paddled furiously to Portland from Melbourne, Australia by one poor sod who alone in this world truly knows the deeper hidden meaning behind the popular adage “to go postal”.

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Social Media Madness!!!

Sad as it may be I spent my Saturday arvo getting some serious social media action happening to promote my music. Well, to my credit it is a rainy old winter’s day here in Melbourne, especially in the hills where I live. And I did break it up with a disgustingly healthy walk with the dog and other humans…

I was at a loss as to where to start so I just googled something like how to promote your music online and got this article and went off from there. I was obviously already on MySpace so decided to hit iLike.com instead. I was surprised to see it was considered such a big deal because I signed up once ages ago but had kind of forgotten about it. Anyway I relocated my log in details and found my profile, languishing and attention starved little bastard that it was. Well, still is really.

The short story from there is that I spent yonks uploading my songs and tweaking yet another fucking profile page, but at the end of the day I am not sure how to use it still. To promote my music that is, although I am sure I could use it to totally waste many, many precious hours, but when you get past 30 you don’t want to do that.

I read as much as I could stand but, call me a Luddite, I still can’t figure it out. I worked out that it somehow links up with Facebook, although (without asking me) it created a new artist page for me (Fuck! Like I need TWO goddamn Facebook profiles in my life! Aaagh!) and I am not sure how to link that in with my existing Facebook page yet. And besides, seeing as I use Facebook pretty much only to find out how fat or bald old school mates I haven’t seen in years have become, I am not really sure what the point of promoting my music through that service is yet. Like some girl you made a drunken fool of yourself in the sack back in 1990 is going to get all excited about your new tunes when she has three brats to look after and an alcoholic husband who never stops griping about how much he hates his job. Or whatever… anyway …

Then I figured out that it also linked up to Hi5.com – which seemed weird. I mean I really don’t think that all that many two year olds are going to get my particular brand of world weary grumbling but what the hey – get ’em young right? So I went over there and realised that it’s just like ANOTHER Facebook or MySpace or whatever, and before I knew it I was slavishly filling out yet ANOTHER freakin’ profile page. Strange thing was I pretty quickly found out that there are at least 7 real world friends using the service, and all people who I know already use the usual culprits. What do people DO with their time these days? No wonder I never see anybody anymore! Everyone’s too busy keeping up with the rampant proliferation of social media sites to get out and visit each other in the real world!

And if you go and look at these two new profiles I created, here and here, you will see that they look completely and utterly lame. I really love the way they say things like “Seamus currently has no friends” or “Total fans: Zero” which, if anyone ever actually manages to stumble into these virtual-backwaters is just gonna look to them like “Ok, this guy is, like, the world’s worst Nigel-no-friends ever. I am totally outies.”

Anyway, jokes aside, I went through all this pain because apparently I am going to be able to promote my music through this beserko thang called social media, and if so, then fine by me. But I can tell you now, today I learned two things:

1) Social Media may work (I bloody hope it does) BUT it is fiddly stuff that will chew up a WHOLE lotta time. So you will need to figure out which strategies work for you and stick with them, but lose the blind alleys. I will be. Oh yeah, I’ll be like the Jack the Ripper of the social media world, silently killing off any street-scum profiles that don’t work (okay prostitutes do actually work so that analogy didn’t really fly did it…)

2) I gotta get out and do some real gigs or I am gonna disappear up my own butt. Amen.

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Not a Huge Success Yet? Bummer Dude!

My Do One Thing report for today is that I am sitting at home cutting out my CD covers. Yes I could do it with a guillotine, but hmmmm, can’t seem to see one lying around here right now. Anyway, makes me feel constructive while we do the usual Friday night DVD thang.

Hey I can’t be arsed writing much tonight except to say that if you are trying to get your music shit – or any kind of shit really – together, then you oughtta take this advice:

“What do you do when you take a shit?
You just shit. That’s what you need to do with your music.”

And then you need to read this post here about getting off your lazy, unfocused arse and just doing it.

Gee lots of rude bum type words in this post. Meh!

Hey here’s one I wrote that can help you get it together too. See ya.

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Barking Mad Dog

Ok so I still need to get the actual discs out there, they are on my desk still (got distracted by work and baby and a lot of expensive unpasteurized cheese) but meanwhile I uploaded all six tracks to Myspace so you can actually listen to and apparently download them there as some thing they call an Mp3, or something …

If you do download all six songs and want to try and imagine what they would be like if you were listening to them on some antiquated format like a CD (thing we used to use to listen to music, don’t worry about it) then just think in your mind like this “This see-dee is called “Dogs May Bark”, and you’ll do fine.

Meanwhile just a did a whip through my RSS. Here’s the highlights.

If you have been labouring under the misconception that you are at all big, then Albert 2.0 should help you to get a little perspective on your delusions of grandeur. Thankfully he will also inspire you to achieve great things, like downloadable snacks, surely the next big breakthrough in food since the much maligned microwave. Seriously the author has a point, I spent years shooting for the quickest route to the stars only to get to 34 and realise that if I’d taken the long way round I would be there by now. Oh well. Fuck it.

Greg showed me how The Material really know how to pimp the crap out of their myspace page, and I gotta admit it beats mine, but then I’ve got the sound muted to save from waking up the baby, so who knows? Maybe my tunes are actually better? (Did I mention my songs yet?)

I noticed (how could you miss it?) that The Material have a song on a thing called Rock Band. I took one brief look at that and shrank back into the safety and warmth of my grandpa cardigan. None of that computery-gamey type shit for me thanks!

Meanwhile Andrew Dubber well and truly K.O.’d any delusions I may have held that the Long Tail was in anyway a good thing for small time hucksters like you and me. That makes two useless tales in my life. Stupid dog knocked over my early morning chow earlier, spent the first ten minutes of my day mopping up the carpet. Then get this, he vomits as a second act. Big dumb piece of poo. But you gotta love his style.

At the risk of sounding vaguely serious, I loved this line from the ubiquitous Seth Godin:

Hope. Do you offer hope for something really big in the future? Maybe just around the corner, but perhaps in the long run… What does it look and feel like? Are you drawing a vivid picture?

You see, that is what I have always believed that musicians provide as a benefit to the rest of us. Actually not musicians but more specifically Rock Stars: Hope that there is a way out of the Blah. (The fact that I ended up quite liking the Blah is besides the point; most people don’t.)

Just read this blog. The dude is your new guru. That’s a full stop to the left there (or a period if you prefer, but in Australia, I assure you, we definitely do not).

While you are reading it, listen to my six new tunes (well, the recordings are new) and remember…

“Dogs may bark, but the caravan moves on…”

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Are you an old sad-case wanna-be?

I was watching the movie Juno last (yes I mostly spend Friday nights at home watching vids with the wife these days, 9 month old child to look after and all) and the character played by Jason Bateman struck a nerve. He is a married suburban musician about mid-thirties who is frustrated about his career having stalled and consequently can’t commit to having a child and, as his on-screen wife puts it, “growing up”.

Suddenly I had a moment, like “fuck, I am like THAT guy? Am I an old sad-case who still thinks he’s gonna be the next Kurt Cobain?”

Then I relaxed, because the answer is no. My style of music has changed to one that would still suit me when I am an old man and I am in fact totally happy with where we live, our little family life and our modest day-to-day concerns, things like “can we get the baby to sleep through the night if we feed her up before bed” and “just which day IS bin day anyway?”. It’s true that I do miss gigging but I have my CD ready to go out and get gigs again and so very soon I will be back on that horse. And it is true that I often fantasize about getting out on stage in front of huge crowds again like I got to when I was like twenty four (11 years ago!) and that I would happily accept a level of recognition again and in fact do actively court it. BUT it is also true that I am pretty happy with just taking every moment as it comes, and as long as I am free to express myself myself through music and words, without being trapped in some hellish 9-to-5 job all week, then I am cool with however it all turns out. In fact sometimes I think about what it must be like to be like one of my heroes like Nick Cave and I think “Jeez, all those airplanes, all that rushing about, bummer.”

So I am getting my music out there again, doing one thing every day, but sometimes the things I do are pretty small, and truth is if I desperately wanted out of my situation I would be doing a whole lot more than one little thing every day. But I don’t want out of my situation, I am the kind of content that makes teenage kids puke, and that’s cool. I did my time being a wastoid rebel on the run (from myself). Now I just wanna enjoy life and my family, and play some music too.

But if you are unhappy with your life, if you are a stuck-in-a-rut suburban musician who feels like a rat in a cage, then for fuck’s sake – don’t take it out on the people in your life, it’s not their fault that you have an itch. Get up off the couch and go for it. Fact is: if you have even just SOME talent and a LOT of drive, then you can do it. Plenty do. It can be hard, but it is do-able if you keep it real and work like a dog at it.

And your wife/husband/partner/kids will respect you all the more for it too. They may knock you down when you TALK about it, but that’s just a mixture of their own limiting beliefs reflected onto you plus genuine concern for your mental well-being. If you actually go out and start DOING it, they will soon change their tune and probably get behind you and help. If they don’t then they may be the wrong partner for you – the kids you gotta keep though ok?
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Don’t Take Sundays Off

Wanting success in the music world is, at least from the conventional way of looking at the world, a big ask. And big asks require big commitments. So this is why I am no longer taking Sundays completely off from work. I AM still taking them off from my ‘day job’ but not from doing one thing every day to get my music out there.

Today’s thing was to deal with the big old pain in the arse that setting up my printer to work properly was. It took me bloody ages to get the blighter working again, and I probably taught my little girl a colourful new word or two, but I got there in the end (after yawning my way through countless forum threads until I figured why it wouldn’t print properly).

But then once that was done I was able to start printing off my CD covers, which means I am on track to have those discs ready for the (breathlessly waiting 😉 world to line up and carry on like my CD is the new iPhone or something*.

Geez, I am really stringing some Irish grammar together tonight.

Irrational expectations aside, I drew a tarot card for my new album, you know, how will it go and I got the Ten of Pentacles. “This is the card you want to see if you are wondering how your latest enterprise will turn out. Wealth and affluence are yours.”

Blimey, that’s friggin’ good 🙂

Meh. Time to watch a DVD and munch on chocolate biscuits (ah, domestic bliss).

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The Purple Muso

No, I don’t mean Prince, I am referring to Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow and thinking how ‘being remarkable’ is really the key to success, in music or anything.

Last night we went to the Sigur Ros concert here in Melbourne, Australia. I didn’t know their music very closely before the gig but it didn’t matter because I was blown away. They were truly purple. A bunch of Icelandic dudes including a singer (who very realistically could actually be an alien) singing in a high pitched squeak in a made-up nonsense language? A hairy brass section dressed in white who disco dance to the slow motion music when they aren’t playing? Music that sounds like a psychedelic ocean of stardust and laser beams? Remarkable, uncompromising and adored by a legion of devoted fans.

Then today I have been checking out the amazing Derek Sivers who obviously so passionate about helping musicians to build a career for themselves that he isn’t content just to sit back and enjoy the rewards of being the CDBaby.com guy, but also has a huge long list of other projects he is starting to help musicians do their thang and thrive. Reading his free e-book right now. Do yourself a favour and download it here. A remarkable man indeed.

Then there are my friends in eddy current suppression ring lead by Mikey, a character so obsessed by garage rock that he pretty much eats and sleeps it. I was watching him at a lunch do the other day and he was off in his own world, jerking his head and mumbling a riff over and over to himself. His girlfriend tells me that all he does is music, literally, and he is certainly quite shy and not a schmoozer but almost overnight (well over the course of a year or so) these guys have literally exploded and become one of the biggest rock bands in Melbourne. Why? Well I really think that they are just so unique, remarkable and uncompromising that people just react positively to that and want in. Me too; I think they are the shit.

Anyway, my point is this. I know from experience and from observation that if you want to make it in this world, as a musician or as an anything-you-want, you need to be utterly unique, original, uncompromising and remarkable. True some people make it without being that, but I reckon it’s a poor bet, you’ll as soon be forgotten.

Meanwhile I am gearing up for my CD (or collection-of-tunes-in-whatever-format-you-prefer) release, and have been doing the Muck Work that is signing up for all the social media/bookmarking sites to get ready to do a social media marketing campaign. So – always – doing one thing every day to get my music out there. What about you? Getting off the couch much?

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